How to Reduce Noise in an Open-Plan Design

Related: 8 Architectural Tricks to Enhance an Open-Plan Space

1. Dress your windows.

Large areas of glass, such as big windows and glass doors, act as bouncing-off points for sound to travel in an open-plan room. Introducing curtains will help deaden the noise. A sheer fabric works especially well, as it won’t totally block the light or views.

For maximum muffling, curtains work better than blinds, simply because there’s so much more fabric involved.

Reduce Noise 1: Environ Communities Ltd, original photo on Houzz

2. Introduce rugs.

Another way to deaden sound is to cover hard floors with rugs. Here, the use of a rug in the living space both minimizes noise and helps define the seating area, making the room feel more intimate.

When it comes to rugs, the thicker the pile, the better the soundproofing, so a cut-pile rug will tend to work better than a flat-weave design.

Reduce Noise 2: HelsingHouse Fastighetsmaklare, original photo on Houzz

3. Break it up.  If you can, try to break up your open-plan space to create zones. This will also help contain the noise. Here, the fireplace in a freestanding wall maintains a visual connection with the space beyond while breaking up the room to create a more defined living area.

If you want to incorporate a feature like this, bear in mind that you’ll need to position the fireplace so you can create a flue, which will need to go through the ceiling or an external wall.

Reduce Noise 3: Stuart Sampley Architect, original photo on Houzz

4. Add a storage wall. The wood-paneled wall in the middle of this large room works beautifully to separate the kitchen from the living area. This kind of feature can be a freestanding structure or a custom piece of furniture, making it a relatively easy and cost-effective solution to break up the space, since you won’t require any structural elements.

Reduce Noise 4: DTDA pty ltd, original photo on Houzz

5. Fit a feature screen. If you can’t bring yourself to divide the space with something permanent, a nice alternative is to introduce a screen as a buffer between zones. It won’t be as effective as a solid structure, but it will help diffuse the noise slightly. The louvered screen seen here allows a glimpse of the living space beyond.

Reduce Noise 5: Studio Revolution, original photo on Houzz

6. Panel your walls. Large, flat, hard surfaces can amplify sound, so adding texture will help reduce this effect. Lining one of your walls with wood not only creates an interesting feature, it does the sound-dampening job. It’s as simple as using flooring material on the walls instead. For a more traditional look, painted wood paneling works equally well.

Often, walls aren’t completely flat, so you’ll first need to add wood battens to the surface onto which you’ll attach your paneling. A good flooring contractor or woodworker can do this, or if you’re pretty confident at DIY, you could tackle it yourself.

Reduce Noise 6: Honka UK Ltd, original photo on Houzz

7. Bring texture to your ceiling. Just like walls, a large expanse of ceiling will encourage the spread of sound, so try adding a textured surface there too. In this example, the ceiling and walls have been paneled with wood boards painted white.

8. Fashion fabric panels. If wood isn’t your style, consider covering one of your walls with some form of acoustic material. These padded fabric panels are highly effective at deadening sound. You can also buy off-the-shelf acoustic panel systems, which can be fixed to your walls and are easy to install.

9. Go soft underfoot. Hard floor surfaces, such as tile, are less than ideal when it comes to controlling noise, so consider something like linoleum instead, which is a durable and practical finish in a kitchen. It’s also soft underfoot, meaning it will absorb the clunk and clatter of cooking.

By Denise O’Connor, Houzz

Posted on February 5, 2019 at 8:07 am
Windermere Windsor | Category: Housing Trends | Tagged , ,

How to Step Up Your Entry Design With a New Welcome Mat

Right before the guests ring the doorbell or give the front door an old-fashioned knock, they step on your welcome mat. This mat serves two purposes: catching debris and adding style. Here are some ideas for how to give this entry detail a refresh before the hustle and bustle of the holiday season begin.

Welcome Mat 1: Caela McKeever, original photo on Houzz

Say Hello

A lettered mat can help you say exactly what you want to say when someone comes to your door. Obviously nothing says hello more than the word “hello.”

The simple greeting might also draw visitors’ eyes to the ground and remind them to take off their shoes before they step inside.

Coordinate Colors

If you have a colorful front door, use that as doormat inspiration. If your door lacks color, maybe it’s time to paint it.

Door paint: Scarlet Ribbons, Dulux

Welcome Mat 2: Zack | de Vito Architecture + Construction, original photo on Houzz

The whole mat doesn’t need to match the door. This striped mat draws on other colors found on the home’s exterior.

Welcome Mat 3: Rustic Porch, original photo on Houzz

Think Outside the Rectangle

Many front doors feature rectangular doormats, but other options exist. The semicircle mat in the photo works nicely with the rustic rockers, porch swing and shutters.

Welcome Mat 4: Garrison Hullinger Interior Design Inc., original photo on Houzz

Roll Out a Rug

A big, bold rug in front of the door adds color and life to this home’s entry, designed by Garrison Hullinger.

large porch rug can also make the space feel like another room of the house. If you add a few chairs, people can stop, relax and enjoy the outdoors. Plus, more rug means more chances for it to pick up any water or dirt from the shoes of incoming guests.

Welcome Mat 5: Seattle Staged to Sell and Design LLC, original photo on Houzz

Play With Patterns

An intricate design gives guests a reason to notice this front door mat. A mat’s design can also pull together all the elements of a porch, such as the front door, mailbox, planted blooms and exterior paint.

“I chose the mat because it is fun, colorful, and it accentuated the colors of the house and the plants,” says Shirin Sarikhani, the owner of Staged to Sell and Design in Seattle.

Keep It Natural

If the entry is already bursting with details, such as eye-catching hardware and light fixtures, a neutral mat will help keep the attention on them. Natural doesn’t have to mean boring.

Welcome Mat 6: Grandin Road, original photo on Houzz

Personalize the Space

This contemporary monogrammed mat is hard to miss. “Don’t be afraid to choose a doormat with personality, says Kate Beebe of Grandin Road. “Work some wit and whimsy into your entrance, and choose something that will put a smile on your guests’ faces.”

She also recommends picking a mat that covers at least three-quarters of the entrance’s width and allows the door to open easily.

Change With the Seasons

While you are changing the front porch decor, swap a plain doormat for a festive option.

After the holidays, clean off your seasonal doormat and store it until the following year.

Match Materials

Doormats come in many materials, including ones that mimic entryway hardware. A rubber mat offers the wrought iron look without the weight and expense of the real material.

The punched-out spaces in a rubber mat also catch a lot of little pebbles, which can then be easily swept away with a broom.

Make It Feel Like Home

Doormat options are pretty much endless, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one that works for you.

By Brenna Malmberg, Houzz

Posted on April 22, 2018 at 9:00 am
Windermere Windsor | Category: Housing Trends | Tagged , , ,

5 Mid-century Modern Homes That Make the Most of Their Small Design

Mid-century modern homes were small out of necessity. Money was in short supply after World War II, so architects and builders had to keep houses compact yet functional to stay within homeowners’ budgets. At the same time, lifestyles were changing. Smart architects took on a new approach and designed homes with an open feel, which differed greatly from the boxy designs of the previous era.

Related: Why You Should Embrace Your Midcentury Modern Kitchen

Midcentury Modern 1: Flavin Architects, original photo on Houzz

I’ve been enamored with midcentury modern homes since my childhood in California, where I was privileged to spend time in the intimate houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wrightapprentice Mark Mills. Mills was the on-site architect for Wright’s famous Walker House, or Cabin on the Rocks, in Carmel, California, pictured. It was during this time that Mills learned an important lesson from Wright: Reject a larger house in favor of a modest home with flowing spaces and no excess.

The following ideas show how midcentury modern homes beautifully make the most of their space in ways that can easily be incorporated in homes today.

Midcentury Modern 2: Wheeler Kearns Architects, original photo on Houzz

1. Open floor plan.

Above all else, the open floor plan is the defining characteristic of midcentury modern homes. Closed-off rooms gave way to flowing spaces that strung one room to the next to form fluid kitchen, living and dining areas.

In a small home, the key to making the open floor plan work is to understand which rooms need privacy, and when. Of course, bedrooms and bathrooms need separation from the main areas of the home, but it’s also good to consider other areas that need privacy: for example, a study where a parent can work without interruption while the kids play nearby.

In this lake house by Wheeler Kearns Architects, the common areas are located in a centralized area, while the more private areas are off to the side or tucked away on another level.

Midcentury Modern 3: Balodemas Architects, original photo on Houzz

2. Expanded sightlines.

The tendency of midcentury modern homes to have open floor plans speaks to the elegant details often seen within these houses. Without trying to be too sparse, midcentury designers included functional details in their homes that were as uncomplicated as they were beautiful. Finding the balance between sophistication and openness was in the hands of the architect.

Take, for example, the stairs in midcentury modern homes. In this remodel of a midcentury home by Balodemas Architects, they preserved much of the original stair and design. The riser, or the vertical part that connects the stair treads, was simply left out for a lighter appearance. The stair was no longer in a hall but fully opened up and integrated into a room. Walls were often dispensed with entirely. Instead, partial-height screens inspired by Japanese shoji were used to subtly separate spaces.

Midcentury Modern 4: Steinbomer, Bramwell & Vrazel Architects, original photo on Houzz

3. An instance to avoid “open.”

While photographs of midcentury modern homes often feature great walls of glass, what’s often not shown, perhaps because they are not as photogenic, are the equally generous opaque walls.

These walls are key to the home’s aesthetic success. They provide a protective backing to the composition, since the opaque side of the home often faces the road, as with this house by Steinbomer, Bramwell & Vrazel Architects. Although the back of the house is open, with lots of glass and a sense of ease between inside and out, the street-facing side would never give that away. An opaque wall creates a boundary to the outside world while extending the perceived size of the home. Walls of glass are expensive, so opaque walls are also an economical design move.

Midcentury Modern 5: Flavin Architects, original photo on Houzz

4. Everything in its place.

Thoughtful storage is a another key aspect of what makes a small mid-century home completely livable. Most mid-century modern homes, particularly those on the West Coast, had no basements or attics, so storage closets needed to be located among the main living spaces. In part, the answer was to do more with less by having well-designed storage throughout and daily items close at hand, as in this kitchen. This has to be married to an ethic of keeping only what you need and having periodic yard sales.

Midcentury Modern 6: Koch Architects, Inc. Joanee Koch, original photo on Houzz

5. Display with a purpose.

In a small home with innovative but limited storage, it’s important to have display areas for the pieces that don’t need to be tucked away in drawers or closets. This was done beautifully in mid-century modern homes by integrating display areas as a means of aiding with the potential conundrum of scarce storage.

This restoration by Koch Architects shows this exact notion at work. Every other step in the stair has an integrated bookshelf. This would make a perfect rotating library with a range of titles easily seen while ascending the stair.

By Colin Flavin, Houzz

Posted on April 21, 2018 at 9:00 am
Windermere Windsor | Category: Housing Trends | Tagged , ,

9 Options to Remove, Hide or Play Down a Popcorn Ceiling

Don’t love your popcorn ceiling? You’re not the only one stuck with some unwanted stucco overhead. There are many options for moving on from it, but not all of them are equally effective — or equally easy. To help you decide how to address your popcorn problem, here are some top ways to remove, cover or distract from stucco ceilings.

Related: How to Decorate Your Ceiling

Popcorn Ceiling 1: The Kitchen Source, original photo on Houzz

From the 1950s to the 1980s, so-called popcorn ceilings (with their prickly stucco texture resembling the popular movie theater snack) were a major architectural staple in America and many other nations.

Eventually the asbestos commonly used in the application was found to be toxic, and demand severely dropped.

However, a textured ceiling does have its advantages. It reduces echoes and hides ceiling plane imperfections, which is why it’s still used (in asbestos-free formulations) today, as shown in the bathroom here.

Despite its practical uses, popcorn ceilings, for many people, are considered an unfashionable eyesore, especially with contemporary demand for “clean lines.” Also, popcorn ceilings can gather dust and be difficult to clean or repaint, which means they don’t always age beautifully.

But don’t worry. You’ve got plenty of options.

Popcorn Ceiling 2: Designs by Gia Interior Design, original photo on Houzz

Ceiling Scraping

The good news is a sprayed-on stucco coating can be scraped off to reveal the original ceiling surface, a process usually known simply as “ceiling scraping” or “stucco removal.” A specialist typically does this because (here’s the bad news) the process can be somewhat costly at around $1 to $2 per square foot. It’s a messy, labor-intensive process, hence the high cost.

Also, in some cases, the results may not achieve the crispness of a ceiling that had not been stuccoed in the first place, especially if the stucco has been painted over, which greatly complicates the removal process.

Even in the best cases the exposed ceiling will typically require at least some smoothing and patching to create a more even and crisp final product, which makes this an extensive and relatively challenging undertaking for DIYers.

While ceiling stucco no longer uses asbestos in modern applications, homes built before 1980 (or even in the early ’80s while old stucco products were still stocked) may include asbestos. If there is any doubt, a professional asbestos test should be conducted before any resurfacing, which could release heavily toxic dust.

Ceiling Replacement

One of the simplest alternatives to scraping is removing and replacing the ceiling drywall. Alternately, you can have the ceiling layered over with new drywall. The drop in the ceiling plane will often be minimal, and this method can encase asbestos rather than releasing it into the air, delaying the issue, if not resolving it.

Redrywalling a ceiling will cost closer to $4 to $6 per square foot, but the results will be more predictable.

Popcorn Ceiling 3: Diament Builders, original photo on Houzz

Covering Stucco

Speaking of layering, there are many other materials besides drywall that can be installed over a popcorn ceiling, many of which add extra personality to a room.

Related: Keep Your Cottage Cool

Beadboard. Classic beadboard makes a charming ceiling treatment, and not just in a rustic cottage. Painted white, the subtle texture of beadboard paneling works well in traditional spaces or modern ones, adding a layer of depth in an unconventional place.

Popcorn Ceiling 4: Spinnaker Development, original photo on Houzz

Panels of beadboard often cost less than 50 cents per square foot, making this a very affordable option, especially for handy DIYers.

For a contemporary twist, try finishing the ceiling in a gloss paint, as shown here. This slow-drying finish will take more labor to complete, but the results have incredible depth and elegance.

Warm wood. If you’re not into painted beadboard, try multitonal wood for a rich, inviting treatment that’s great for a den or sitting area. Contrast it with white molding and crossbeams, or let the wood speak for itself. This approach works well with rustic decor, as a gentle touch in a modernist space or somewhere in between.

Popcorn Ceiling 5: Bravehart Design Build, original photo on Houzz

Pressed tin. Whether you use true pressed tin tiles or a fiber substitute, this classic ceiling look recalls speak-easy style and makes a great cover-up for a kitchen ceiling. You can paint it white or pale gray to keep the look breezy, or an inky dark hue (like charcoal or navy) for moody atmosphere. Or choose a metallic finish for extra sheen and drama.

Many companies now provide faux pressed tin and other panel systems specifically designed to cover stuccoed or damaged ceilings. They typically cost $1 to $5 per square foot.

To have a professional install these materials for you, expect to pay several hundred dollars extra.

Popcorn Ceiling 6: The Morson Collection, original photo on Houzz

Other Options

Lighting. Sometimes the best way to deal with ceiling stucco is to de-emphasize it, and smart lighting choices can go a long way toward that.

Notice how the lighting hitting this stucco wall emphasizes the texture. Great when the effect is desired. To avoid highlighting unwanted ceiling stucco, choose lights that aim downward, rather than upward or outward, so light is cast on beautiful surfaces below and not on your ceiling itself.

Try pot lights, or semi-flush-mounts (or pendants) with an opaque shade to aim light downward rather than multiple directions.

Paint. Ultimately, the best way to deal with a popcorn ceiling may simply be to learn to live with it. Think about it: How many people do you know who live with popcorn ceilings? I bet you can’t specifically remember who has it or doesn’t, because unless a ceiling is highlighted, we don’t typically spend much time looking at it.

Try painting the walls and the ceiling the same color to blur the lines between them, and then create drama at ground level to draw the eye down. You’ll soon forget about your stucco altogether.

By Yanic Simard, Houzz

Posted on April 20, 2018 at 9:00 am
Windermere Windsor | Category: Housing Trends | Tagged ,

4 Simple Steps to Painting a Wall Faster

Many books about painting will tell you to paint a small strip along the baseboards, doorways, trim and other edges of the room with a brush before breaking out the paint roller to paint the rest of the wall. But before you do this paintbrush work, called “cutting in,” consider paint expert Shauna Gallagher’s method: Roll paint on the wall and then use a paintbrush for the edge work. To learn more about this technique, watch as she paints the feature wall of a room.

Paint Faster 1: Houzz TV, original photo on Houzz

Watch a video tutorial here

Step 1: Add Paint to the Roller

With a paint roller in hand, Gallagher dips her roller cover into the paint and then rolls it down the cage in the bucket to remove excess paint. She recommends rolling down and not up to avoid splattering paint out of the bucket. If you have excess paint on the edge of the roller, use a chip brush to wipe it off so it doesn’t drip on the wall.

Paint Faster 2: Houzz TV, original photo on Houzz

Step 2: Roll on the Paint

In rolling the paint on the wall, Gallagher uses vertical movements — rolling up and down as she moves across the wall — so she can glide right up against the taped-off edges. The paper-and-tape combo, which she applied to the wall’s edges with a tape gun, gives her extra protection against getting paint on the ceiling and adjacent walls.

Because she is painting a smooth wall with a thin roller cover, she can get closer than if she were painting a textured wall with a fluffy roller. Additionally, she rolls horizontally along the ceiling line to get even closer with the roller. She says she can roll paint within about 1 inch of her taped-off edges. If she would have cut in first, she says she might have painted a strip of 5 to 6 inches with a paintbrush.

“You are looking at a huge time savings if you roll paint first,” she says. “It might be 1½ hours versus 25 minutes.”

As she rolls, she keeps the arm of the roller on the side of the direction she is traveling across the wall. She is going from left to right, so the arm is on her right side. She uses this method because a small line of paint forms on the edge, and she can pick up that extra paint and spread it out as she goes.

Keep a Hamper Nearby for Messy Rags

After she completes a section, Gallagher lightly goes over the wall again, this time rolling only downward, to remove any roller lines and give the paint an even finish.

Paint Faster 3: Houzz TV, original photo on Houzz

Step 3: Paint the Edges

Once you have rolled paint on as much of the wall as possible, fill in the unpainted areas with a paintbrush. Because she rolled paint close to the wall’s edges, Gallagher can make quicker work of the cutting-in step of her project.

For this step, she dips her paintbrush into the paint and then removes paint from one side of the brush by wiping it along the edge of the can. She uses this side of the brush as she paints along the taped edge. Applying less paint to the taped edge keeps the taped line crisper, she says, and prevents paint from squishing up into the corner.

Paint Faster 4: Houzz TV, original photo on Houzz

Step 4: Remove the Tape

After painting, Gallagher waits until the paint is just dry before methodically removing the tape. She recommends putting your hands close to the wall and pulling the tape at a 45-degree angle.

“When you are farther away, you are yanking on the tape a little more,” she says. Her technique helps keep paint from pulling away from the wall.

When you are done, you can step back and admire a wall that you painted in a fraction of time, thanks to the reverse method.

Next Up: How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets Like a Pro

By Brenna Malmberg, Houzz 

Posted on April 19, 2018 at 9:00 am
Windermere Windsor | Category: Housing Trends | Tagged , ,

Make Your Move

Moving is stressful, whether it is across town or cross-country.  Once you have closed on your house, the reality of packing, moving, and setting up a new home can become overwhelming. While no list can make a move “stress-free”, planning ahead and staying organized can help make your move a little smoother.  Here is our list of tips:

Getting started:

· Once you know your prospective move date, set up a quick timeline to make sure you can get all the important tasks done and ready in time for your move.

· Consider how much stuff you have by doing a home inventory. This can help you decide whether you need to hire movers to help you or if you will be managing your move on your own. Many moving companies supply inventory lists to help you assess the size of truck you will need.  You can use your list as double duty for insurance purposes later.

· As soon as you decide how you will be moving, make your reservations. In general, moving companies and truck rental services are over-booked at the beginning and very end of the month.  If you are planning on hiring a moving company, contact a few in your area for a price quote. To find companies ask your real estate agent, family, or friends, and consult online reviews.  It is also a good idea to request a quote and compare companies.

Preparing for your move:

· Moving is a great opportunity to get rid of clutter, junk, or outdated items. Set aside some time to sort through your closets, storage spaces, files, drawers, and more.  Go through cluttered areas and organize items by “keepers”, “give-aways” and “garbage”. You will have less to pack and an opportunity to update after you move. Contact a local nonprofit organization for your donations; some will arrange to pick up larger donations like furniture. If you have items of value, eBay or craigslist are good options.

· Changing your address is one of the more tedious tasks in the moving process. You will need to change your address with the United States Post Office. You can find the online form here: https://moversguide.usps.com/icoa/icoa-main-flow.do?execution=e1s1.

· You will also need to change your address with each account you have. Here is a list to get your started:

· Employers

· Bank(s)

· Utilities (Electric, Water/Sewage, Oil/Gas)

· Cable/ Telephone

· Cell phone service

· Credit Cards

· Magazine subscriptions

· Insurance companies (auto, home/renters, health, dental, vision, etc.)

· Pharmacy

· Other personal services

Let the packing begin:

· Before you start packing, it may help to visualize where everything you have will go. Perhaps furniture will fit better in a different room? Consider the floor plan of your new home and figure out what will go where. This will aid in packing and labeling as you box everything up.

· Use a tool like floorplanner.com to plan where furniture and items will go.

· When it comes to packing you have some options. You can work with a service that provides reusable boxes for moving or you can reuse or purchase cardboard boxes.  Make sure you have enough boxes, packing tape, dark markers, and packing paper.

· Pack rooms according to your floor plan. Label boxes with contents and room. This will make it easier to unpack your home, knowing where everything is going.

· Real Simple magazine has some great tips on packing for your move.

· If you have to disassemble any of your furniture, make sure you keep all the parts and directions together.

· Make sure you set aside your necessities for the day you move. Being tired and unable to take a shower or make your bed can be hard at the end of a long moving day. Here are some ideas of what you may like to pack in your “day-of-move” boxes.

· Clean linens for the beds, pillows and blankets

· Clean towels

· Shower curtain, liner and hooks

· Toiletries, hand soap, tooth brush, etc.

· Disposable utensils, cups, napkins, etc

· Rolls of toilet paper

· Snacks and water

· Change of clothes

· Tools for reassembling furniture, installing hardware, and hanging photos

Making your move

· Come up with a game plan with your family, so everyone has a role and a part to play

· Once the house is empty, do a once over on your old place to make sure it is clean for the next owners/occupants. Here is a useful checklist for cleaning.

Warming your new home

· Once you have settled into your new home, warm it up by inviting friends and family over to celebrate. Here is a great infographic about housewarming traditions and symbolism.

· Announce your move to far-away friends and family through moving announcements to make sure you stay on the holiday card mailing list.

Do you have any other tips or advice for achieving a smooth move?

Posted on April 18, 2018 at 9:00 am
Windermere Windsor | Category: Relocation | Tagged , ,

How to Plan a Renovation That Matches Your Budget

When working with a contractor, you may feel like you have little influence over whether your remodeling project stays on budget and hits the finish line on time. But you have more control than you might think. Remember, the scope of your project and the specific materials are up to you.

The key to keeping a project on budget and on schedule is nailing down the details before ground breaks. If you’ve never renovated or built a new home, you may not be sure about how the seed of an idea turns into a completed project. Here’s a road map for two early steps: putting together your renovation team and nailing down your project’s cost.

Bookmark Part Two in This Dream to Done Series

Dream To Done 1: Serenity Design, original photo on Houzz

Who Will Help You Build Your Vision?

Before you meet with a professional, you should know what you want to accomplish. Is your goal to tear out your entire kitchen and start fresh? Or are you looking for less costly upgrades, perhaps replacing cabinet fronts and a tired back splash? Or do you want to remodel your whole house?

Some homeowners know only that the current home isn’t working for them but aren’t sure how to fix it. If you are in this group, you may decide to work with professionals who can help you develop a plan and advise you on cost. A recent survey showed that 85 percent of Houzzers who renovated in 2015 did so with professional help. The survey covered 120,000 registered Houzz users, including 70,000 who renovated.

Dream To Done 2: SALA Architects, original photo on Houzz

What Exactly Do Pros Do?

The most important documents you will need are the construction plans. Your building plans must be approved by an agency to make sure the home is safe and meets local codes. So unless you are familiar with building codes and construction methods, you will want to hire a professional to draft these plans. Rules for which pros can draft plans vary by state (and in some states by county or municipality) and with the size and type of project. Look to the local building department or the professionals you contact to explain the rules in your area.

Each profession has its special emphasis. Architects and interior designers create concepts and draw plans. General contractors build the plans. Landscape architects create designs and plans for outdoor spaces. Design-build firms offer both design and building services, some with in-house architects, others by contracting the design work out.

Houzzers who remodeled in 2015 said the most valuable contributions of general contractors and design-build firms were delivering a quality result, finding the right products and materials, staying on budget and managing the project.

Architectsinterior designers, and kitchen and bath designers were appreciated for helping clients integrate their personal style into the design. Houzzers valued architects for understanding and complying with local building codes, and interior designers for finding the right products or materials. But these are only their most-appreciated contributions; each profession has a wide range of skills and resources to offer owners.

Ask About Options

Many pros offer a range of services, from initial design to project management, which may be priced as menu options or charged at per-hour rates. For just one example, architects can provide evaluation and planning services, which can involve site analysis and selection, economic feasibility studies and helping you determine what you want, need and are willing to pay for.

Architecture firms offer design services, including documents that define the space’s shape, and they may work closely with engineers as needed in relationship to the structural elements. They also may offer construction management services, involving consulting and coordinating with the various agencies overseeing your project, or manage the bidding process when you search for the right contractor. These are just a handful of the services your architect may provide, so it is worth asking about pricing and what is involved as you shop around. This AIA guide can be helpful. Also, there could be some overlap in the menus of services provided by the different pros, so be sure that you are clear on what you need and what services each will perform.

Even if you are not planning to hire a professional to design or manage your renovation, you may want to hire a pro on a per-hour basis to help you refine your ideas. “A small percentage of upfront money with a professional can really help clarify the scope of the project and the budget before you get too involved,” says John Firmin, general contractor at Build-A-Home Inc., in Fayetteville, Arkansas, who founded the firm 16 years ago.

Dream To Done 3: Tim Clarke Design, original photo on Houzz

Select Your First Team Member

When hiring your first design team member, you can start with a builder, architect, designer, design-build firm or remodeler, depending on your needs and priorities. If you already know a contractor whose work you like, he or she will probably have a list of architects and interior designers to recommend. That is also true if you start with other pros. You also can use Houzz’s directory to find individual professionals, see their past projects and read client reviews.

Narrow your list down to your favorites and then interview a few people. Ask for — and check — references, and drive out to see past projects. Also, see how it might feel to work together — make sure you have a rapport with the professional. You should find out whether they listen and whether they are good communicators, says Jon Dick, an architect with Archaeo Architects in Santa Fe, New Mexico, who has been practicing 30 years and worked on more than 100 homes. “Their design ability is very important,” Dick says. “But it’s also a long-term relationship. They’re going to ask pretty personal questions and know a fair amount about you.”

You should follow this same basic process with an interior designer, landscape architect, general contractor or design-build firm. Keep in mind that the average kitchen remodel takes about five months once construction starts, but three times that long from initial design phase to completion, according to a recent Houzz survey. So the professionals you hire should be people you like and can communicate with.

Whether to Hire One Pro — or More

Which pros and how many you hire is up to you. Among Houzzers who hired pros for their renovation projects last year, nearly half hired a general contractor, builder, kitchen or bath remodeler, or design-build firm — the professionals who actually build the project. About 20 percent employed an architect, interior designer or kitchen and bath designer.

A recent Houzz survey found that 2015 home buyers spent $66,600 on renovations, while would-be 2016 home sellers spent $36,300 on renovations.

Dream To Done 4: Original chart on Houzz

Be Up Front About Your Number

It’s helpful to be honest about your budget with the professionals you contact. Pros typically work with clients whose budgets are within a certain range. (Sometimes a pro’s range can be found on his or her Houzz profile.) If you fall in love with a pro whose projects start at $50,000, but you have $5,000 to spend, you’re probably not a match. Some homeowners pay a high-end designer to create the initial plan, only to realize that the products and materials suggested are out of range.

Homeowners without constrained budgets may be afraid to be too forthcoming for fear that pros will push them to spend more than they would like. That’s where checking references and finding people you can communicate with comes in. In the process of vetting the pros you are considering, you will find reputable people who will not push you but use your target number to help guide your plan.

Some Averages to Go On

If you have never renovated or built a home, you may have no idea how much it’s going to cost. To give you a sense of average budgets, here are some recent stats: People renovating kitchens had budgets ranging from less than $5,000 to more than $100,000, according to a survey of nearly 2,500 owners conducted by Houzz. One-quarter of renovators had budgets of $25,001 to $50,000, while 20 percent had budgets of $15,001 to $25,000. Only 10 percent had budgets of $5,000 or less, and only 6 percent had budgets of more than $100,000. The range of figures here is national; it should be noted that renovation costs vary by region and even city.

That said, not everyone stays on budget — and that’s true regardless of geography. Only about one-third of Houzzers who renovated last year stayed on budget, while just 3 percent came in below budget. Another third exceeded their budgets, while the remaining third had no initial budget at all. Among those who exceeded their budgets, the top reason was selecting nicer finishes or materials.

Major kitchen renovations cost an average of $50,700 for spaces 200 square feet or larger, while major renos in smaller kitchens cost about half that, according to Houzz data. A major kitchen renovation includes at least replacing cabinets and appliances. Major master bathroom renovations cost an average $25,600 in rooms at least 100 square feet and about half that for smaller bathrooms. A major bath renovation includes at least replacing the vanity or cabinets and countertops and toilet. Doing it yourself, of course, is less costly.

By Erin Carlyle, Houzz

Posted on April 17, 2018 at 9:00 am
Windermere Windsor | Category: Housing Trends | Tagged ,

How to Reduce Noise in an Open-Plan Design

Open-plan living spaces have many advantages for family life and entertaining, and they increase the opportunity to bring lots of natural light into your home. But they can end up being quite noisy. You may be surprised, however, at how easy it is to reduce sound travel with a few key additions to your furnishings. There are also structural changes you can make if you’re after a more robust fix.

Related: 8 Architectural Tricks to Enhance an Open-Plan Space

1. Dress your windows.

Large areas of glass, such as big windows and glass doors, act as bouncing-off points for sound to travel in an open-plan room. Introducing curtains will help deaden the noise. A sheer fabric works especially well, as it won’t totally block the light or views.

For maximum muffling, curtains work better than blinds, simply because there’s so much more fabric involved.

Reduce Noise 1: Environ Communities Ltd, original photo on Houzz

2. Introduce rugs.

Another way to deaden sound is to cover hard floors with rugs. Here, the use of a rug in the living space both minimizes noise and helps define the seating area, making the room feel more intimate.

When it comes to rugs, the thicker the pile, the better the soundproofing, so a cut-pile rug will tend to work better than a flat-weave design.

Reduce Noise 2: HelsingHouse Fastighetsmaklare, original photo on Houzz

3. Break it up.  If you can, try to break up your open-plan space to create zones. This will also help contain the noise. Here, the fireplace in a freestanding wall maintains a visual connection with the space beyond while breaking up the room to create a more defined living area.

If you want to incorporate a feature like this, bear in mind that you’ll need to position the fireplace so you can create a flue, which will need to go through the ceiling or an external wall.

Reduce Noise 3: Stuart Sampley Architect, original photo on Houzz

4. Add a storage wall. The wood-paneled wall in the middle of this large room works beautifully to separate the kitchen from the living area. This kind of feature can be a freestanding structure or a custom piece of furniture, making it a relatively easy and cost-effective solution to break up the space, since you won’t require any structural elements.

Reduce Noise 4: DTDA pty ltd, original photo on Houzz

5. Fit a feature screen. If you can’t bring yourself to divide the space with something permanent, a nice alternative is to introduce a screen as a buffer between zones. It won’t be as effective as a solid structure, but it will help diffuse the noise slightly. The louvered screen seen here allows a glimpse of the living space beyond.

Reduce Noise 5: Studio Revolution, original photo on Houzz

6. Panel your walls. Large, flat, hard surfaces can amplify sound, so adding texture will help reduce this effect. Lining one of your walls with wood not only creates an interesting feature, it does the sound-dampening job. It’s as simple as using flooring material on the walls instead. For a more traditional look, painted wood paneling works equally well.

Often, walls aren’t completely flat, so you’ll first need to add wood battens to the surface onto which you’ll attach your paneling. A good flooring contractor or woodworker can do this, or if you’re pretty confident at DIY, you could tackle it yourself.

Reduce Noise 6: Honka UK Ltd, original photo on Houzz

7. Bring texture to your ceiling. Just like walls, a large expanse of ceiling will encourage the spread of sound, so try adding a textured surface there too. In this example, the ceiling and walls have been paneled with wood boards painted white.

8. Fashion fabric panels. If wood isn’t your style, consider covering one of your walls with some form of acoustic material. These padded fabric panels are highly effective at deadening sound. You can also buy off-the-shelf acoustic panel systems, which can be fixed to your walls and are easy to install.

9. Go soft underfoot. Hard floor surfaces, such as tile, are less than ideal when it comes to controlling noise, so consider something like linoleum instead, which is a durable and practical finish in a kitchen. It’s also soft underfoot, meaning it will absorb the clunk and clatter of cooking.

By Denise O’Connor, Houzz

Posted on April 15, 2018 at 9:00 am
Windermere Windsor | Category: Housing Trends | Tagged , ,

How to Reduce Noise in an Open-Plan Design

Open-plan living spaces have many advantages for family life and entertaining, and they increase the opportunity to bring lots of natural light into your home. But they can end up being quite noisy. You may be surprised, however, at how easy it is to reduce sound travel with a few key additions to your furnishings. There are also structural changes you can make if you’re after a more robust fix.

Related: 8 Architectural Tricks to Enhance an Open-Plan Space

1. Dress your windows.

Large areas of glass, such as big windows and glass doors, act as bouncing-off points for sound to travel in an open-plan room. Introducing curtains will help deaden the noise. A sheer fabric works especially well, as it won’t totally block the light or views.

For maximum muffling, curtains work better than blinds, simply because there’s so much more fabric involved.

Reduce Noise 1: Environ Communities Ltd, original photo on Houzz

2. Introduce rugs.

Another way to deaden sound is to cover hard floors with rugs. Here, the use of a rug in the living space both minimizes noise and helps define the seating area, making the room feel more intimate.

When it comes to rugs, the thicker the pile, the better the soundproofing, so a cut-pile rug will tend to work better than a flat-weave design.

Reduce Noise 2: HelsingHouse Fastighetsmaklare, original photo on Houzz

3. Break it up.  If you can, try to break up your open-plan space to create zones. This will also help contain the noise. Here, the fireplace in a freestanding wall maintains a visual connection with the space beyond while breaking up the room to create a more defined living area.

If you want to incorporate a feature like this, bear in mind that you’ll need to position the fireplace so you can create a flue, which will need to go through the ceiling or an external wall.

Reduce Noise 3: Stuart Sampley Architect, original photo on Houzz

4. Add a storage wall. The wood-paneled wall in the middle of this large room works beautifully to separate the kitchen from the living area. This kind of feature can be a freestanding structure or a custom piece of furniture, making it a relatively easy and cost-effective solution to break up the space, since you won’t require any structural elements.

Reduce Noise 4: DTDA pty ltd, original photo on Houzz

5. Fit a feature screen. If you can’t bring yourself to divide the space with something permanent, a nice alternative is to introduce a screen as a buffer between zones. It won’t be as effective as a solid structure, but it will help diffuse the noise slightly. The louvered screen seen here allows a glimpse of the living space beyond.

Reduce Noise 5: Studio Revolution, original photo on Houzz

6. Panel your walls. Large, flat, hard surfaces can amplify sound, so adding texture will help reduce this effect. Lining one of your walls with wood not only creates an interesting feature, it does the sound-dampening job. It’s as simple as using flooring material on the walls instead. For a more traditional look, painted wood paneling works equally well.

Often, walls aren’t completely flat, so you’ll first need to add wood battens to the surface onto which you’ll attach your paneling. A good flooring contractor or woodworker can do this, or if you’re pretty confident at DIY, you could tackle it yourself.

Reduce Noise 6: Honka UK Ltd, original photo on Houzz

7. Bring texture to your ceiling. Just like walls, a large expanse of ceiling will encourage the spread of sound, so try adding a textured surface there too. In this example, the ceiling and walls have been paneled with wood boards painted white.

8. Fashion fabric panels. If wood isn’t your style, consider covering one of your walls with some form of acoustic material. These padded fabric panels are highly effective at deadening sound. You can also buy off-the-shelf acoustic panel systems, which can be fixed to your walls and are easy to install.

9. Go soft underfoot. Hard floor surfaces, such as tile, are less than ideal when it comes to controlling noise, so consider something like linoleum instead, which is a durable and practical finish in a kitchen. It’s also soft underfoot, meaning it will absorb the clunk and clatter of cooking.

By Denise O’Connor, Houzz

Posted on April 14, 2018 at 9:00 am
Windermere Windsor | Category: Housing Trends | Tagged , ,

Great Design Element: Why Awnings Are Making a Comeback

Awnings are a valuable home design element that our grandparents knew all about. In the days before air conditioning, they were used to shade interiors and help keep homes cool. With the focus on sustainable design today, there’s renewed interest in the power of awnings. They block the sun from entering the house and warming it on hot days, and can be removed or retracted during the winter months when you’re craving light and warmth. Depending on the fabric you choose, they can also keep harmful UV rays from damaging your skin and fading your fabrics.

Awnings 1: Flagg Coastal Homes, original photo on Houzz

Window awnings can reduce solar heat gain in the summer by up to 65% on south-facing windows and 77% on west-facing windows, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Besides all of that great money- and energy-saving function, awnings are an aesthetic asset. Colorful materials, stripes and scalloped edges are just a few of the options. Awnings bring softness, pattern, color and nostalgic charm to a home’s facade.

This photo shows awnings at work — you can see the shadows they create and how they’re protecting the interiors and the second-floor balcony area from the sun’s rays. Aesthetically, the stripes break up the white on the home — they are the home’s flirty false eyelashes.

Awnings 2: Christina Karras, original photo on Houzz

The retractable awning is curb appeal gold and transforms a space out front into a shady outdoor room. This style of retractable awning has poles that help support it, but there are other options that don’t require the added support.

Retractable awnings that don’t require support poles have retractable arms to support them. This provides a cleaner look. These can extend up to 14 feet.

Awnings 3: Exteriors by Chad Robert, original photo on Houzz

This style of awning, called a spear awning, adds to the style of the home. The decorative wrought iron rods have finials that pick up on the iron lantern and metal furniture frames on the patio.

These awnings are easily rolled up by hand when inclement weather is expected.(You will need to retract awnings when high winds are predicted. The awning company will let you know how many miles per hour their products can withstand.) There are also motorized versions on the market. Factors to consider when deciding whether to go hand-cranked or motorized include the ease of simply pushing a button versus the increased cost of the product, installation and maintenance.

“The motor is an up-charge and usually adds another $800 to the cost of the awning,” says Sandy Price of PYC Awnings. “The motor comes with a 12-foot cord and a plug, or you have an electrician hard-wire it for you.” (That cost is not included in the $800.) By the way, motorized awnings come with a hand crank in case the power goes out.

Awnings 4: Our Town Plans, original photo on Houzz

This roller shade protects those on the porch from the sun and wind. “It has a cable on each side that passes through rings at the bottom of the shade to keep it from flapping in the wind,” says Suzanne Stern of Our Town Plans. The shade has a crank for rolling it up and down by hand (which you can make out on the left side of this photo if you really squint).

Related: Patio Details: Awning-Covered Patio and Playhouse for a Shared Property

Stern also notes that this solution doesn’t change the look of the column and that the shade can be rolled all the way down below the railing.

Awnings 5: Becky Harris, original photo on Houzz

These valance awnings on a house on Florida’s Marco Island are more decorative than functional. They’re installed across extensive porches and tie into larger retractable awnings used in other spots on the home. “The customer used the Costa Track installation so they wouldn’t see any hardware and did a ceiling-mount installation,” Price says.

By Becky Harris, Houzz

Posted on April 13, 2018 at 9:00 am
Windermere Windsor | Category: Housing Trends | Tagged , , ,